One of the surest ways to capture a people is to take away, or reconstruct, its collective memory.
It is no wonder then that the anti-christian educators who have controlled our tax funded (now government controlled) schools have worked feverishly for the last 100 years to redefine the history of this nation.
Founded by a Christian people, on the basis of a trinitarian and Biblical faith and worldview, the United States has enjoyed the fruits of our Christian forefathers for centuries. That is fading quickly and the dissolution of the family is the surest evidence of it.
I hope you enjoy this excerpt below. The full document can be downloaded at the url just below the authors introduction.
Almost every citizen of the United States knows about the Declaration of Independence: the greatest statement of democratic rights and principles in history.
Curious, then, is the fact that most of us freedom-blest Americans cannot name half a dozen of the fifty-six patriots who signed the Declaration in Philadelphia that eventful summer of 1776.
How many Signers can you name?
“I thought I had remembered nine,” ruefully confessed a man with a Ph.D. degree, who holds an important position with our government. “But when I checked, I found only six were right.”
The proprietor of a bookstore said she would have a hard time naming any besides George Washington and Patrick Henry. She was chagrined to learn that neither Washington or Henry signed.
Who were the Signers? The least we, their beneficiaries, can do is learn their names. The highest tribute we can pay these men is to cherish the freedom for which they risked their lives and fortunes and to defend that freedom against every threat. What sort of men were the patriots who risked a hangman’s noose? What consequences did they suffer as a result of their bold and hazardous act?
To answer these questions, and to acknowledge a debt which we, in common with our fellow Americans, owe the sturdy heroes of ’76, we have written TheySigned for Us.
Annabel Douglas McArthur
Thomas McKean of Delaware paced up and down the hallway of the State House in Philadelphia that rainy Tuesday on July 2, 1776. Every few minutes he would stare up the street, hoping to see his friend and fellow delegate, Caesar Rodney, come riding up. The Continental Congress was about to cast the most momentous vote of its brief existence – whether or not to adopt the declaration that Thomas Jefferson had been feverishly writing and rewriting over the past several weeks.
Each of the 13 colonies had sent several representatives to the Congress. But each colony would cast only one vote. The delegates had agreed that the vote for independence must be unanimous for it to take effect. It looked like the fate of the declaration would be determined by the smallest colony – and the two representatives from Delaware were divided. Thomas McKean was a leader of the pro-independence movement, but his fellow delegate, George Read, was more cautious. He said a declaration of independence was premature and vowed to vote “no.”
Unless Delaware’s third delegate, Caesar Rodney, arrived in time, Delaware would be deadlocked and would be recorded as a “no vote.” That would be enough to prevent Thomas Jefferson’s declaration from being adopted unanimously.
The evening before, McKean had dispatched an urgent note to Rodney at his plantation near Dover: “Get to Philadelphia at the earliest possible moment,” it said. Although it was pouring rain when he received McKean’s entreaty, Rodney didn’t hesitate. He ordered his best horse saddled and, within 10 minutes of receiving the message, set off for Philadelphia.
He rode all night, changing horses that friends had ready for him, and arrived at the State House just moments before the Congress’s president, John Hancock, called the meeting to order. Hancock asked Benjamin Harrison of Virginia to poll the colonies.
When it was Delaware’s turn, Rodney – still wearing the mud-spattered boots and spurs he arrived in – rose to his feet and said, “As I believe the voice of my constituents and of all sensible and honest men is in favor of Independence, and my own judgment concurs, I vote for Independence!”
The motion had passed unanimously! Delegates realized what the vote meant, both for the colonies and for them personally. King George III had declared every rebel in the land a traitor. The penalty for treason was death by hanging. Nevertheless, the 56 men meeting in Philadelphia pledged “their Lives, their Fortunes, and their sacred Honor” to the cause of liberty.
How many of us can name even a handful of the men who signed that momentous declaration? What do we know, really, about the men who risked their lives and everything they owned in the cause of freedom?
Because the story of the signers is so inspiring, we've arranged a special treat for you this week -- a free copy of a wonderful little book called They Signed For Us.
Half a century ago, two patriotic ladies in the Midwest wanted to help others learn more about the remarkable men who signed the Declaration of Independence. Merle Sinclair and Annabel Douglas McArthur wrote a delightful book about the events of that time, including a history of each of the signers. They called it, They Signed For Us.
At the end of today's column, you'll find a link that will take you to a copy of the book. You may read it on-line or download it and print your own copy. The file also includes a list of all of the signers and the states they represented, plus the complete text of the Declaration of Independence.
To whet your appetite a bit, here's an excerpt from They Signed For Us.
"SUDDENLY THE BIG BELL in the State House steeple pealed joyously. The appointed signal! Cheers rose from the waiting crowds.
"'Proclaim liberty throughout the land....'
"Cannons boomed, drums rolled. Church bells rang, sounding the death knell of British domination!
"News of the adoption of the Declaration of Independence spread like wildfire. Ready messengers leaped into their saddles to ride and spread the word. The Declaration had been ordered printed on a single large sheet, '45.5 x 37.5 cm.,' or approximately 18 by 15 inches. These broadsides were distributed with all possible speed, to be read in the provincial assemblies, pulpits, market places, and army camps."
The story continues:
"On July 8, the Liberty Bell summoned citizens of Philadelphia to the State House yard for a public reading of the document. Colonel John Nixon mounted a high platform and spoke the noble lines in a strong, clear voice. The crowd, now hushed, listened intently throughout.
"'...for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.'
"Patriots shouted their approval of the pronouncement of their leaders. Some of them celebrated by tearing down the King's Arm over the seat of justice in the courtroom and casting such vestiges of authority into a bonfire in the street. Processions and demonstrations lasted till midnight, when thunder and lightning sent the excited townspeople running to their homes.
"Newport, Williamsburg, Charleston - a great many cities and towns - held celebrations and patriotic observances with speeches and prayers. Dover arranged a grand turtle feast. In Savannah, jubilant citizens burned King George in effigy and conducted a mock funeral service over his grave.
"Not even a smallpox epidemic kept a great crowd from assembling in Boston. The Declaration was read from a balcony of the Massachusetts State House. At a given signal, thirteen cannons boomed across the New England shore. Bostonians celebrated with banquets and bonfires, having special reason to rejoice over their freedom from Britain and her obnoxious redcoats. According to a Boston newspaper, 'The King's Arms, and every sign that belonged to a Tory, was taken down and made a general conflagration of in King Street.'
"In New York, General Washington ordered that the Declaration be read at the head of each brigade of the army at six o'clock, the evening of July 9. The brigades were drawn up in hollow squares. Washington, mounted on his horse, took up his position within one of these squares while an aide read the broadside. Afterward, the commander in chief reported to Congress on 'the expressions and behavior of officers and men testifying their warmest approbation of it.'
"Civilians rushed to Bowling Green, where stood a life-sized equestrian statue of George III. They tore down the figure, which was made of lead, richly overlaid with gold. What fine ammunition it would make!"
And it did indeed make a lot of fine ammunition. The metal was taken to the home of Brigadier General Oliver Wolcott in Litchfield, Connecticut, where it was melted down. His wife and children, assisted by several ladies in the village, began casting bullets. Mary Ann Wolcott, the general's 11-year-old daughter, made 10,790 of them. In all, the statue was transformed into 42,088 bullets for the continental army.
It was almost a month later that the Declaration was engrossed on parchment and ready for signing by the delegates to the Continental Congress. Members gathered on August 2 for the ceremony.
The only person who had signed the Declaration on July 4 was John Hancock, a delegate from Boston who had been elected president of the Continental Congress. He wrote his signature in large, bold letters and as he did, in a reference to the near-sightedness of the British king, he declared, "There! John Bull can read my name without spectacles and may now double his reward of £500 for my head. That is my defiance."
As the delegates gathered around a desk to sign the Declaration, William Emery, one of the representatives from Rhode Island, moved as close as he could. "I was determined to see how they all looked as they signed what might be their death warrants," he later wrote. "I placed myself beside the secretary, Charles Thomson, and eyed each closely as he affixed his name to the document. Undaunted resolution was displayed on every countenance."
Contrasting with Hancock's confident signature was the shaky scratch of Stephen Hopkins from Rhode Island. Hopkins was the second-oldest signer and suffered from palsy. As he handed the quill to the next person, he valiantly proclaimed, "My hand trembles, but my heart does not!"
As one or two delegates hung back, seemingly reluctant to add their signatures to such a momentous declaration, John Hancock encouraged them. "We must be unanimous," he said. "There must be no pulling different ways. We must all hang together."
To which Benjamin Franklin replied, "Yes, we must all hang together. Or most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."
Happily, none of the signers was hanged by the British. But all of them were considered traitors to the Crown. And many of them suffered terribly for the cause they so ardently supported.
When New Jersey signer Richard Stockton returned to his home after signing the Declaration, he learned that British troops were coming to arrest him. He fled to a neighbor's house with his wife and children. But a Loyalist, as supporters of the British cause were called, betrayed the family's hiding place.
Here is how Merle Sinclair and Annabel Douglas McArthur describe what happened to him: "The judge was dragged from bed and beaten, then thrown into prison. This distinguished jurist, who had worn the handsome robes of a colonial court, now shivered in a common jail, abused and all but starved.
"A shocked Congress arranged for his parole. Invalided by the harsh treatment he had received, he returned to [his home at] Morven to find his furniture and clothing burned, his fine horses stolen, and his library -- one of the finest private collections in the country -- completely destroyed. The hiding place of exquisite family silver, hastily buried, had been betrayed by a servant.
"The Stockton's were so destitute that they had to accept charity. For the judge's fortune was gone, too. He had pledged it and his life to his country. He lost both. He did not live to see the Revolution won."
John Morton, a delegate from Pennsylvania, was the first of the signers to die. His last words for his family, before his death in April 1777 (just eight months after he signed the Declaration), were, "...tell them that they will live to see the hour when they shall acknowledge it to have been the most glorious service I ever rendered to my country."
The following month, Button Gwinnett, the commander in chief of Georgia's militia, was badly wounded in a duel with a political opponent. He died a few days later -- the second signer to die.
But by and large, the signers of the Declaration of Independence were a hardy bunch. Three of them lived until their nineties -- a remarkable accomplishment in a time when most men did not see their fiftieth birthday.
Only two of the signers were bachelors. Sixteen of them married twice. Records indicate that at least two, and perhaps as many as six, were childless. But the other 50 signers were a prolific lot, having a total of 325 children between them! William Ellerey of Rhode Island had 17 children; Roger Sherman of Connecticut had 15.
Twenty-four of the signers were lawyers and jurists, eleven were merchants, and nine were farmers or plantation owners. They were well-educated men of means. All of them had a great deal to lose when they voted to defy what was then the most powerful nation on earth.
Charles Carroll of Maryland was the longest-lived signer. He died in 1832, at the age of 95. Four years earlier he lifted the first spade of dirt for the construction of the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad -- an essential link in the train system that would ultimately unite the East with the West.
Fifty years after the united colonies declared their independence from Britain, plans were made for jubilant celebrations on July 4, 1826. Only three of the original signers were still alive -- Charles Carroll, Thomas Jefferson, and John Adams. Here is how Sinclair and McArthur describe what occurred that day:
"In a dramatic climax that even their agile minds would not have contemplated, these two principals in the struggle for Independence left the nation awestricken and touched, by dying hours apart on the Fourth of July. Jefferson died at one o'clock in the afternoon, Adams toward evening."
Ten days earlier, Jefferson had written the mayor of Washington, expressing his regret that ill health prevented him from coming to the nation's new Capitol to join the festivities.
"I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met ... with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between the submission or the sword."
And he concluded by writing, "Let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollection of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."